Savvy Money: Sign up to a gym contract as supple as you aim to be

If your resolution to fight the flab weakens, the only pounds you lose may be in health club bills

Did you make some New Year's resolutions this year? Many of us vow to eat more healthily, spend less and exercise more – at least for a few weeks! So if you're thinking of signing up with your local gym to improve your fitness, make sure you check the contract before you join.

Until fairly recently, gyms were notorious for having contracts that even the most supple of gymnasts would struggle to wriggle out of.

But a clampdown by the Office of Fair Trading has made contracts more user-friendly. However, you can still be caught out if you don't know what to look for.

Cooling-off period

Check that you will get a seven-day cooling-off period (and make sure this is in writing or in the contract). If there isn't one, don't sign up unless you are 100% happy with your decision.

Most privately-run gyms cost a minimum of £30 a month, and you could pay over £80 a month if you want to be able to use all the gyms in the network. If you change your mind within the seven days, you can cancel the contract without paying any fees, as long as you haven't used the gym.

Contract length

Gym contracts shouldn't be for more than 12 months or, if they are, you should be able to cancel the contract after the first 12 months with 30 days' notice. Most gyms offer rolling monthly contracts as an alternative (although they usually cost more).

If you sign up to a 12-month contract, you can generally cancel in the first year only if your circumstances change (loss of job, ill health etc), or if, for example, the gym increases its prices significantly.

Cancelling your contract

You will usually have to give 30 days' notice if you want to cancel your contract, whether it is for annual membership or on a rolling monthly basis.

But if you don't cancel your annual contract at the right time, you may find you pay an extra month's membership, as some gyms will cancel your membership from the first day of the month only after they get your cancellation notice.

You should always cancel a contract in writing (unless the gym asks you to cancel by a different method) and send the letter by recorded delivery.

If you're asked to cancel in person or over the phone, send an email or letter to confirm.

Change of circumstances

If you lose your job, move house, are ill, become pregnant or suffer severe financial hardship, you should be able to cancel a 12-month contract early. But check what you have to do.

For example, you will usually have to provide a doctor's note if you are ill or evidence that you have moved house, and most gyms will simply transfer your membership if one of their branches is within ten miles of your new home.

Closure of facilities

If the gym no longer offers the facilities you signed up for, there is no guarantee you will be able to cancel your membership. So if you are thinking of joining a gym because it does early-morning classes, for example, or because it has a crèche, it is worth asking if you can cancel your membership if these facilities are no longer offered (and get confirmation in writing).

I have looked at a couple of contracts that say the gym doesn't have to provide the services at a particular time and that you would be able to get out of your contract only if the gym you've signed up for closed for more than 30 days at a time for repairs or refurbishment.

Do you need to join a gym?

Of course, you may not need to join a private gym at all. Start by seeing what your local council offers. You may not get a gleaming reception area or fluffy towels, but it could be more budget-friendly. Otherwise, there are pay-as-you-go options such as PureGym, open 24/7, where you can buy a day pass or pay per month, or PayasUgym, which has about 1,500 gyms in its network, where you can buy day, bundled or monthly passes.

Verdict

Think carefully before signing up for a 12-month gym contract as many people stop going to the gym after a few months. Make sure you know when you can cancel, and check out non-contract alternatives.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

    £450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

    Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

    £450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

    Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

    £350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

    SQL DBA/Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve